Tag Archives: change point

No matter how free interactions become, tribalism remains a basic trait. The impulse to form groups based on similarities of habits – of ways of thinking, the tendency to congregate across disciplinary divides, never goes away fully regardless of how progressive our outlook gets. While that tendency to form cults is not problematic in itself (there is even something called community detection in network science that exploits – and exploits to great effects – this tendency) when it morphs into animosity, into tensions, things get especially tragic. The issue that needs to be solved gets bypassed, instead noise around these silly fights come to the fore. For example, the main task at hand could be designing a drug that is effective against a disease, but the trouble may lie in the choice of the benchmark against which this fresh drug must be pitted. In popular media, that benchmark may be the placebo – an inconsequential sugar pill, while in more objective science it could be the drug that is currently in use. There are instances everywhere of how scientists and journalists come in each other’s way (Ben Goldacre’s book Bad Science imparts crucial insights) or how even among scientists, factionalism persists: how statisticians – even to this day – prefer to be classed as frequentists or Bayesians, or how even among Bayesians, whether someone is an empirical Bayesian or not. The sad chain never stops. You may have thought of this tendency and its result. How it is promise betrayed, collaboration throttled in the moment of blossoming. While the core cause behind that scant tolerance, behind that clinging on to, may be a deep passion for what one does, the problem at hand pays little regard to that dedication. The problem’s outlook stays ultimately pragmatic: it just needs solving. By whatever tools. From whatever fields. Alarmingly, the segregations or subdivisions we sampled above and the differences they lead to – convenient though they may be – do not always remain academic: distant to the point of staying irrelevant. At times, they deliver chills much closer to the bone: whether a pure or applied mathematician will get hired or promoted, how getting published in computer science journals should be – according to many – more frequent compared to those in mainstream statistics, etc.

Read more